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At yesterday’s Angelus, Pope Francis talked about the recently-celebrated feast, the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In particular, he spoke of Jesus’ Heart as the ultimate symbol of God’s mercy. This symbol is not imaginary, as many symbols are, but it is a real symbol; it exists now and for always.

Additionally, the Holy Father told the crowd that Jesus is pure mercy. I think it might be difficult for us to comprehend that. If someone is purely merciful, then he forgives everything always. No offense will be held against the other, ever. Perfect charity prevails in all circumstances, and there is never revenge taken, grudges held, or aversion harbored. There is only love and justice.

We probably can reach that ideal occasionally, and perhaps even frequently if we’ve progressed that far on our spiritual journey. But… To be completely merciful constantly? Only a Person with a Pure Heart, a Sacred Heart, could do that – Jesus.

That’s doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try – we most certainly should, and must, in keeping with our Christian calling. We have to try, relying on God’s grace, and imploring Jesus’ Sacred Heart for the strength to do so. He is our example, but he’s also the source of our efforts. As imperfect as we are, we can courageously approach our Lord, and reveal to him all of our brokenness. He in turn will have mercy on us, and mercy brings healing.

Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ address. I’m sure you’ll want to read it for yourself, meditating on each line, and internalizing its wisdom.

Dear brothers and sisters!

The month of June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the highest human expression of divine love. Just this past Friday, in fact, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: the feast that sets the tone for the whole month. Popular piety highly prizes symbols, and the Heart of Jesus is the ultimate symbol of God’s mercy – but it is not an imaginary symbol, it is a real symbol, which represents the center, the source from which salvation for all humanity gushed forth.

In the Gospels we find several references to the Heart of Jesus, for example, in the passage where Christ says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. (Mt 11:28-29)” Then there is the key story of the death of Christ according to John. This evangelist in fact testifies to what he saw on Calvary: that a soldier, when Jesus was already dead, pierced his side with a spear, and from the wound flowed blood and water (cf. Jn 19.33-34). John recognized in that – apparently random – sign, the fulfillment of prophecies: from the heart of Jesus, the Lamb slain on the cross, flow forgiveness and life for all men.

But the mercy of Jesus is not just sentiment: indeed it is a force that gives life, that raises man up! [This Sunday]’s Gospel tells us this as well, in the episode of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17). Jesus, with his disciples, is just arrived in Nain, a village in Galilee, at the very moment in which a funeral is taking place. a boy is buried, the only son of a widow. Jesus’ gaze immediately fixes itself on the weeping mother. The evangelist Luke says: “Seeing her, the Lord was moved with great compassion for her (v. 13).” This “compassion” is the love of God for man, it is mercy, i.e., the attitude of God in contact with human misery, with our poverty, our suffering, our anguish. The biblical term “compassion” recalls the maternal viscera: a mother, in fact, experiences a reaction all her own, to the pain of her children. In this way does God love us, the Scripture says.
And what is the fruit of this love? It is life! Jesus said to the widow of Nain, “Do not weep,” and then called the dead boy and awoke him as from a sleep (cf. vv. 13-15). The mercy of God gives life to man, it raises him from the dead. The Lord is always watching us with mercy, [always] awaits us with mercy. Let us be not afraid to approach him! He has a merciful heart! If we show our inner wounds, our sins, He always forgives us. He is pure mercy! Let us never forget this: He is pure mercy! Let us go to Jesus!

Let us turn to the Virgin Mary: her immaculate heart – a mother’s heart – has shared the “compassion” of God to the full, especially at the hour of the passion and death of Jesus. May Mary help us to be meek, humble and compassionate with our brethren.

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